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Can Adding Iron To Oceans Slow Global Warming

Can Adding Iron To Oceans Slow Global Warming Can Adding Iron To Oceans Slow Global Warming

Published at Thursday, 31 January 2019. Global Warming. By .

That's an intriguing finding for people who have been eyeing iron fertilization of the oceans as a way to slow global warming. But Smetacek doesn't leap to any conclusions. "We need to carry out many more experiments before we embark on anything like that — before we even talk about anything like that," he says. And those experiments pretty much ground to a halt a few years ago. A couple of companies swooped into this field, hoping to make money by sinking carbon and selling carbon credits. And critics started raising concerns.

"Where you have heavy rainfall you have forests, and where you have no rainfall you have deserts," he says. "And you have the same thing with iron falling from the atmosphere on the oceans." Thirty years ago, scientists started wondering whether they could create huge blooms of algae in the oceans by adding iron. In concept, the algae would also soak up huge amounts of carbon — carbon that's in the air and in the ocean as a result of our burning fossil fuels. Sending carbon to the sea floor could slow global warming. So Smetacek and his colleagues went to sea in 2004 to make algae blooms by adding iron to the water.

Within a few weeks, the algae died and clumped up like snowflakes. Those particles fell down into the deep, "and we were able to track the particles sinking out of the surface layer all the way down to the sediments." In fact, they fell rapidly through more than two miles of ocean water. "By the time we left more than half the bloom had sunk out to the deep," Smetacek says, "and we are confident that the remaining half also sunk out, but after we had left."

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